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Salesforce soars as significant investor steps in

Another large investor bought a stake in Salesforce, pushing the stock price notably higher Monday.

Following news that activist investor Elliott Management has acquired a position in the most prominent corporate software company in the world, shares of Salesforce (CRM) climbed sharply on Monday.

Ahead of the US opening bell, the stock traded 5% higher, rising to two-month highs near $160. Still, the market value of the San Francisco giant was $151 billion as of Friday’s closing, down from a record of more than $300 billion in 2021.

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Elliott stated that it is “looking forward to working with Salesforce to achieve the value that a company of Salesforce’s magnitude deserves” but did not suggest whether it will seek a seat on the firm’s board of directors or push for particular reforms.

“Salesforce is one of the preeminent software companies in the world, and having followed the company for nearly two decades, we have developed a deep respect for Marc Benioff and what he has built,” Elliott managing partner Jesse Cohn said in a statement.

Starboard Value, another activist firm led by Jeffrey Smith, invested in Salesforce last October and challenged management to be “as competitive in delivering shareholder value as they were in the commercial software industry.”

Layoffs help

This month, as part of a reorganization effort directed by CEO Marc Benioff, the company announced intentions to reduce its worldwide staff by around 10%. Salesforce stated that the job layoffs and more extensive reorganization measures would cost between $1.4 billion and $2.1 billion, with an impact of around $1 billion projected for the fourth quarter of its fiscal year.

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Salesforce has nearly tripled its workforce in the preceding four years, thanks primarily to dozens of acquisitions, notably the $27.7 billion purchase of Slack in 2021. As a result, the headcount increased by more than 30,000 between January 2020 and October of the previous year.

CEO problems

Bret Taylor said less than a year after becoming co-CEO that he would quit the firm to pursue other interests, leaving Benioff as the company’s sole CEO.

Salesforce announced a better-than-expected bottom line of $1.40 per share for the third quarter, as appetite for its workflow services remained strong. However, Taylor’s resignation threw a gloom over an otherwise impressive earnings report. Salesforce said group revenues increased 14% from the previous year to $7.84 billion, matching analyst projections.

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